What comes after death? Do we go to heaven? Tibetan buddhists speak of a pure land named Sukavati. It is also shown in pictures. Here we are talking about a tibetan scroll painting – thangka – from the 18th century, which can also be seen as a work of art. The paradise of Amitabha with all its details.
There is a huge figure of Amitabha, the primordial buddha of the lotus family and the west, who embodies clear light and the boundless radiant nature of our minds. He is a master of meditation and the buddha of long life. His red glowing body represents his compassion and the element of fire. Here the red is replaced by the more precious gold.
He sits in a circle of rainbow light. His body sends light that illuminates an infinite number of pure lands. This light brings immeasurable joy.
He sits in full lotus seat on a golden lotus throne. In his hands, which rest in meditation posture, he holds an bowl with the water of eternal life. He wears dharma robes and no jewelry. He sits in front of a three-story palace with a golden roof.
On the right and on the left are the great bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara and Vajrasattva. Avalokiteshvara embodies universal compassion, Vajrasattva represents purification from all negativity. Other bodhisattvas teach in their palaces at the top and the bottom of the picture.
In a side wing of his palace, we see Padmasambhava, the earthly embodiment of Amitabha. On the other side, the historical buddha Shakyamuni is depicted. The central palace is surrounded by a wall.
To the right and to the left, and in front of the palace are people seeking enlightenment for themselves and for others. Up in the sky two blissful beings fly with their shawls. At the bottom of the picture, lotus blossoms are growing from a pond, and two people are just being reborn from them.
Sukavati is a pure land. It looks like our world, but there is no suffering. There is only bliss.
What really comes after death?
What really comes after death? To be honest: I don’t know. There are many people who claim to know exactly. But their ideas are different. Some say the nature of our minds is clear light. In death, everyone will experience this clear light.
Amitabha has promised to welcome all beings in his pure land if they repeat the wish to be reborn in Sukavati at least ten times – unless they have committed unforgivable crimes.
After death – meditation prepares us
Let’s assume, that we don’t fall into a black hole after death, but somehow continue to exist. Then there is only our mind. What we imagine will happen. Then it is essential that we can concentrate, as we have learned by meditation.
So we are able to focus our mind on being reborn in a certain form and region and environment, or in a certain paradise, or in the fully awakened state.
The pure land of Sukavati
How would it be like to be reborn in this wonderful paradise, which, if it exists, may in reality look somewhat different from what is described in this picture?
It is said, Sukavati is the pure land, that is easiest to reach because Amithaba has vowed to welcome all beings here if they want. In his presence, they gradually become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.